Russia’s Maria Sharapova will face Serbian Jelena Jankovic in the Cincinnati Open final after the pair enjoyed solid victories in their semi-finals on Saturday.
Sharapova recovered from a poor start to beat fellow Russian and world No. 2 Vera Zvonareva 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 to reach her fourth final of the season, while Jankovic beat Germany’s Andrea Petkovic 7-6, 6-1.
“It is going to be a tough match, she is playing very well,” Jankovic said of Sharapova, who holds a 5-1 record in their career meetings. “I feel good the way I am playing though and I hope I can play like that again in the final.”
Sharapova, ranked seventh in the world, will play for her 24th career title and second of the season following her victory in Rome, but she had to come back from dropping the opening set against Zvonareva.
“I had a slow start, to say the least,” Sharapova said. “I needed to get my energy back and when I did that I started to make some shots and was able to turn it around.”
Zvonareva said she had allowed her concentration to slip after dominating the opening set.
“In the second and third [sets], my concentration level dropped a bit in some moments and I had a few more double faults, that gave her some confidence and I also gave her some more chances,” Zvonareva said. “It was tough because if you give Maria chances, she is going to take them.”
Jankovic, who won the title two years ago, had a struggle in the first set against Petkovic, who looked hampered by heavy strapping on her leg.
The Serb failed to take full advantage, with some odd shot selection and unforced errors, but after winning the tie-break, she never looked back and Petkovic was never in the game in the second set.
The German said she had spent much of the day undergoing scans on a knee injury she feared was a second anterior cruciate ligament injury, but which turned out to be a mildly torn meniscus.
“It was a very draining day emotionally ... I cried enough for the next 20 years,” said Petkovic, who said her parents had tried to stop her playing.